Last updated on May 13, 2024

Cyclonic Rift - Illustration by Chris Rahn

Cyclonic Rift | Illustration by Chris Rahn

How do I eliminate your board and build my own really quickly? The fastest tool is to wipe your board on your turn and then use my mana to build my own. But instant speed board wipes are generally less good and/or less efficient than their sorcery speed cousins, so which ones are worth the sleeve?

Find out as we rank every instant speed board wipe in MTG!

What Are Instant Speed Board Wipes in MTG?

Aetherspouts - Illustration by Dan Scott

Aetherspouts | Illustration by Dan Scott

Instant speed is easy enough to understand. It’s got to be an instant, or something that can happen during any phase. The activated ability of something like Nevinyrral's Disk, which can happen at instant speed, doesn’t make this list because I want something I can cast when I need it.

A board wipe gets rid of either your opponents’ or the whole board state. For this piece, I’m focusing on creature board wipes. You can get all enchantments with Back to Nature or sweep artifacts too with Fracturing Gust, but likely you're here to deal with creatures.

And there are multiple kinds of board wipes. I’m including them all, so things that do damage, destroy, give -X/-X, exile, and even bounce. Obviously, some of those effects won’t be that good in certain situations, but this list should help you find what fits the goals of your deck.

Before moving on to the proper list, I've got lists here of really limited instant speed sometimes sweepers that’ll be just fine in certain builds but aren’t for general consumption.

One Damage Mini-Sweepers

There are kind of a lot of cards that do one damage or give -1/-1 to creatures, but this effect has a lost a lot of relevance over the years. Still, in case you’re working on some wonky Polymorphist's Jest combo, here's most of them in a clump for your perusal:

Flier Sweepers

Classic green from the beginning is flying creature mass destruction named after various terrifying weather phenomena. Some of these are at instant speed:

Ground Pounders

We’ve got some stuff that hits ground creatures only. These feel like sideboard only cards, like if that person always comes on Friday with their Selesnya tokens deck. Every. Friday. I hate playing that way, but sometimes you just need to be prepared:

And Heaven / Earth does both fliers and non-fliers, so bully.

#48. Silence the Believers

Silence the Believers

Unplayable. But in a deck where your plan is infinite mana, Silence the Believers is a fine thing to have in your 99 to tutor up.

#47. Tsabo’s Decree

Tsabo's Decree

This is one of black’s only instant board wipes, so I’m highlighting it, but I can’t imagine running Tsabo's Decree as a limited board wipe that hits only one person for 6 mana.

#46. Puppet’s Verdict

Puppet's Verdict

Coin flip decks want all cards that flip coins. Is this one of them? Sometimes. Puppet's Verdict seems unplayable otherwise.

#45. Lava Storm

Lava Storm

Your daily reminder of what we had to put up with in ‘90s Magic. Lava Storm is what sadness feels like.

#44. Cleansing Beam

Cleansing Beam

Aha! Not every bad card is from the ‘90s! Cleansing Beam is rough, dude.

#43. Flames of the Raze-Boar

Flames of the Raze-Boar

A grudging playable in Limited, Flames of the Raze-Boar isn’t quite there.

#42. Retaliate


I mean, Retaliate shuts the barn door, but only after all the horses already escaped, carrying an army that hits you in the face, hopefully not with infect. I’m sure this has a use, but I just can’t see it.

#41. Lavaball Trap

Lavaball Trap

I guess Lavaball Trap randomly wrecks someone who topdecks a ramp spell or fetch land in the Commander late game? Seems wacky. But if you’re an instant speed deck running red, keeping 5 mana up to wrath the moment someone plays two lands, well, that’s doing something isn’t it? No, actually. Sorry.

#40. Hibernation


Color hosers are tough to evaluate in EDH. But Hibernation just wrecks if there’s a lot green at the table.

#39. Consume the Meek

Consume the Meek

An instant speed early version of Shadows' Verdict is decent enough if you’re really looking for an instant board wipe in black, where you kind of like to Consume the Meek, color-wise, but not given your own board state, usually.

#38. Hail Storm

Hail Storm

Hail Storm kind of stinks, but it’s one of green’s only options at all in this space, much less at instant speed, so it’s worth consideration. It often kills your mana dorks, and how often are you passing the turn with three green mana up? But there are times and places.

#37. Hideous Laughter

Hideous Laughter

One more mana for the typical black -2/-2 at instant speed may actually be worth it on its own in certain black decks. But Hideous Laughter could be even better if you’re still trying to make splice onto arcane work?

#36. Breath Weapon + Fiery Cannonade + Vampires’ Vengeance

Each of these instant 2-mana sweepers for 3 that spare some form of your creatures serve about the same function. If you have the right typal deck, Breath Weapon, Fiery Cannonade, and Vampires' Vengeance can be nice additions.

#35. Warpath


4 mana is still too much, but the 3 damage to every clashing creature can definitely wipe the board. There are situations when Warpath is better than a regular red board wipe in that it has a shot at eliminating some bigger creatures, but this feels like we’re circling the drain.

#34. Inflame


Inflame is clearly almost always a trap. The dream is that it finishes off all the creatures when an opponent attacks another one. The other use, amplifying Sandstorm size effects, is a waste of card slots. I admit I find this useful in an Obosh, the Preypiercer deck, but that’s about it.

#33. Dwarven Catapult

Dwarven Catapult

First, it’s weird that a card with this, of all names, is an instant. Dwarven Catapult is, however, very dangerous over short distances!

#32. Fight to the Death

Fight to the Death

In a tokens deck this seems like a fine defensive card, but why are you sitting back and blocking with tokens? Fight to the Death is good to obliterate all sides when an opponent attacks big. But, again, is this really what you’re doing in Boros?

#31. Sulfurous Blast

Sulfurous Blast

Sulfurous Blast is inefficient at instant speed and slightly less inefficient at sorcery. I guess that flexibility is enough? I’m not a fan of this card, but I can see its uses.

#30. Jund Charm

Jund Charm

A modular Pyroclasm that can also hit a graveyard or serve as a combat trick, Jund Charm is a fine enough card, but those colors aren’t an easy feat.

#29. Force of Despair

Force of Despair

Only arguably a board wipe, I wanted to highlight Force of Despair as a kind of Containment Priest effect you can pitch to wipe a lot of foes, or even just a commander as needed.

#28. Bloodline Culling

Bloodline Culling

Bloodline Culling is like a classic sideboard card, but in EDH you don’t have one! Is wiping tokens at instant speed or nabbing a commander a worthwhile choice? Maybe? It depends on your local meta, maybe, in which case, isn’t that just the cheesy Commander version of sideboarding?

#27. Inferno


7 mana. Hard to cast. Doesn’t exile. But it also hits players. 6 damage kind of isn’t enough by the turn you can cast Inferno!

#26. Fated Retribution

Fated Retribution

7 mana. Hard to cast. Doesn’t exile. But it also hits planeswalkers. Except don’t board wipe players classically like to dabble in superfriends? If you’re in a superfriends meta, Fated Retribution is probably a good include, but otherwise 7 mana makes me okay with something cheaper and sorcery speed.

#25. Spontaneous Combustion

Spontaneous Combustion

The deck that has enough creatures to reliably use this doesn’t want a sweeper. Spontaneous Combustion is the perfect card for a defensive Rakdos control deck. Is there such a thing?

#24. Incendiary Sabotage

Incendiary Sabotage

1 mana more than the next cards for 1 damage more? Or Anger of the Gods at instant speed for 1 more mana? All okay. But you gotta have an artifact you want to sac. That seems more and more useful as more and more artifact tokens are printed and artifact graveyard recursion decks increase. Incendiary Sabotage will often disappoint, but it’s better than you remember from the Kaladesh days.

#23. Cinderclasm + Kozilek’s Return + Flame Sweep

Flame Sweep and Cinderclasm are good because they’ll always hit every opposing creature, unlike the red typal sweepers earlier. Kozilek's Return has additional utility in the rare red Eldrazi deck.

2 damage often isn’t enough, but these are always fine to finish off things after an attack.

#22. Volcanic Fallout

Volcanic Fallout

Volcanic Fallout is better because of the uncounterability.

#21. Caught in the Crossfire

Caught in the Crossfire

Any sweeper that can be asymmetrical is bank, and Caught in the Crossfire can do just that. Most likely you are running this for three and saving your board of outlaws, but it could go the other way, and paying four makes it an instant speed Pyroclasm, which is worse than Flame Sweep but is better on the list for the modality provided by spree. And the wild hope.

#20. Angel of the Dire Hour

Angel of the Dire Hour

A Cube classic, Angel of the Dire Hour is Settle the Wreckage on a big flying stick. They probably know what’s up when you pass with 7 mana up, but in a flash deck, if you don’t blink and just keep on going, well, eventually you got ‘em.

#19. Tegwyll’s Scouring

Tegwyll's Scouring

A six-mana board wipe that gives you three fliers is only okay. But Tegwyll's Scouring can tap three fliers to come out with flash and then give you three fliers. Like fae recycling? It’s a bit awkward, but any board wipe that leaves you with stuff is good, and if you can make good use of faerie rogues, well, so much the better!

#18. Aetherize


Aetherize is a simple salvation from an attack. It’s a good card to have around, and at instant speed, it provides the flexibility and power level we're looking for.

#17. Aetherspouts


In some cases Aetherspouts is better than Settle the Wreckage. If they need the creatures and just had a massive Memory Lapse unleashed on them, that’s gonna really slow them down. And against a tokens deck, they lose their cardboard without getting lands. It also has the same downside, being an expensive effect that usually only hits one opponent.

#16. Decree of Pain

Decree of Pain

No pain, no gain, and Decree of Pain is all about the former. Neither mode is efficient, but the expensive half is worth 9 mana, and the cycling mode is close to uncounterable

#15. Settle the Wreckage

Settle the Wreckage

This is insanely brutal in 1v1. Less so when there are four people at the table, but it can still just wreck someone and save your bacon. In Commander, you can blank someone’s board who’s after someone else, which can get you political friends (and one clear enemy!) while meeting your board reduction goals. I’ve also seen Settle the Wreckage used against a Cyclonic Rift cast by a defender in combat. Instead of the tokens Rifting to oblivion, the attacker used Settle to basically drop every land in their deck. Not the worst use of 4 mana.

#14. Perplexing Test

Perplexing Test

This is a great card in certain decks and horrific in others. Generally, this is like a Talrand, Sky Summoner or Ovika, Enigma Goliath style card. Wipe the normal creatures and keep your tokens.

#13. Engulf the Shore

Engulf the Shore

Another buildaround. Clearly you need to be playing islands. But Engulf the Shore is about as efficient as it gets for that kind of effect if you’re heavy blue. Unplayable in most decks, but almost the best card in your High Tide style casual decks. And the art by Cliff Childs is sick. Look in the water….

#12. Hurkyl's Final Meditation

Hurkyl's Final Meditation

Another strange blue bounce spell! Hurkyl's Final Meditation is better than you think. For harder to cast Cyclonic Rift costs, you also bounce your own stuff. Not great, Bob. But it does blank the stack, which can be huge game in response to a storm and or Ad Nauseam turn. Of course, this costs 10 at instant speed, so there’s that. If your deck likes to draw-go with 10 mana up, I think you should play this card. If that’s not your deck, then no.

#11. Starstorm


Starstorm is flexibility. There’s cycling. There’s the ability to spend 1 mana more than something like a Flame Sweep for low level carnage while reserving the right to use a lot of mana to do a lot of mayhem. Choices are good!

#10. Comet Storm

Comet Storm

Like an improved Fireball, Comet Storm is inefficient, but if you have access to a lot of mana, it can get there. It’s also a wincon for a lot of mana, as it goes face.

#9. Rout


Five mana sweepers are fine. The option to go instant speed with Rout for seven is really sweet and valuable flexibility among white board wipes.

#8. Fire Covenant

Fire Covenant

The utility here is massive in a Commander game where you have 40 life. Fire Covenant can really serve in a pinch, and of course it just synergizes nicely with life loss cards like Rowan, Scion of War.

#7. Evacuation


Because you can only pack one copy of Cyclonic Rift in your 99, there’s Evacuation!

#6. Delayed Blast Fireball

Delayed Blast Fireball

There are a few red sweepers at 3 mana that spare your board, maybe. But Delayed Blast Fireball, for the additional red pip, does it for sure while also having that modular 5 damage possibility. That’s so useful!

#5. Gallifrey Falls // No More

Gallifrey Falls // No More

Is two more mana for a Storm's Wrath worth it if you add an exile clause and instant speed? I’d say yes. But to run Gallifrey Falls / No More, you need to at least be in Boros, so that limits this a bit. Still, in a multicolor space, for 9 mana you can wipe everything but big chonkers while phasing out your board. And in a pinch, you have a less good Teferi's Protection effect, which you can’t underrate.

#4. Arcbond


Arcbond is a phenomenal surprise weapon not enough people play! Someone tosses a Lightning Bolt at your Ebondeath, Dracolich, and, snap! It’s like you cast an Anger of the Gods that also hits players. You attack with your Yargle and Multani, they block, and snap! 18 to every creature and face. I usually try to save this card for winning the game, and if you’re defending against a big attack, it’ll only deal damage after you already took damage, so those two elements mean its utility as an instant speed sweeper are limited. But it does so many other things!

#3. Firestorm


Clearly Firestorm is madness in a, well, madness deck. This card is Wild Mongrel vibes, but better for EDH. Artifacts decks and Izzet decks often want to put things in the graveyard, and being able to do that at instant speed while also dealing selective damage is big money. Even just dropping a land to blank an army of 1/1 tokens is excellent utility, but if you’re a Reliquary Tower sort of deck this is also a wincon.

#2. Final Showdown

Final Showdown

A board wipe you can tutor up with Spellseeker or even Micromancer is big game. And Final Showdown can do that. It’s also a six-mana instant speed board wipe, which is one cheaper than the alternatives. For seven you can protect one of your creatures and for eight you can wipe indestructible pests like Toski, Bearer of Secrets. And the fail case is two mana instant that protects your creature. Just what I want!

#1. Cyclonic Rift

Cyclonic Rift

The best blue board wipe, and one of the most popular and hated spells in Commander, Cyclonic Rift gets folks salty, so use it wisely. In other words, you’d better have the ability to win or else you just extended the game time by two hours!

Best Instant Speed Board Wipes Payoffs

Having the option of instant speed for wiping the board is always better than sorcery speed. These spells all pay for that privilege in their higher casting costs and (mostly) lower power, but sometimes it’s all worth it, mostly for two kinds of decks.


The most popular commander for a mostly flash deck is faerie Nymris, Oona's Trickster, though there are some Errant and Giada decks out there. Anything that casts at instant speed can throw its spells onto end steps and such. If you don’t need to use your board wipe, you can always drop some creatures to attack with after they pass the turn.


The classic control structure, this method of play is harder to manage in Commander, where one-for-one removal puts you down on resources compared to the other two players uninvolved in that transaction. Some instant speed board wipes really help, as they’re much more efficient and effective.

Wrap Up

Firestorm - Illustration by Jeff Miracola

Firestorm | Illustration by Jeff Miracola

If every deck these days is running a few board wipes, it seems, I’d argue the next thing is to find at least one at instant speed to supplement that strategy. The widely hated Cyclonic Rift serves that purpose as the “break glass in case of emergency” card for so many players, but this list shows you some other options to consider, especially at lower mana costs.

At best these cards can be blowouts. Usually, a large amount of mana held up in today’s Commander is highly suspicious, so good players play around them, but that still slows the game down and opens up space for you to play if that’s your game.

I know everyone reading this has a killer Cyclonic Rift drubbing that either happened to them or they inflicted on another, but what about some of these other cards? Any good or bad beat stories to share? Let me know in the comments below or on Discord!

Have fun and watch the salt!

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  • Avatar
    JP April 1, 2024 11:15 am

    I would have thought that Rout would have made the list.

    • Jackson Wong
      Jackson Wong April 11, 2024 2:23 pm

      Thank you JP! There were a few more instant-speed sweepers to add, so the article is updated.

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